The Royal Rumble is always one of WWE's most hotly-anticipated events of the year, even when the outcome looks predictable. The promise of grand returns, comebacks, and monstrous Iron Man runs makes the Rumble an annual highlight.
WWE love pushing the idea that literally anybody can win the Rumble, and while the victor is usually someone who's already in the main event scene, the phrase is truer than ever with WWE's ever expanding roster.
It's absolutely vital that WWE pick the right winner, however. The Rumble sets the tone for the company's entire year, and particularly WrestleMania. Make the right call, and WWE will start 2021 with a bang, but get it wrong and WrestleMania 37 might be doomed before it even starts.
Unfortunately, WWE don't have the best track record when it comes to the Rumble, and history is littered with failed victors. Here are 10 times WWE got the Royal Rumble winner wrong.
10. Triple H (2016)
The 2016 Royal Rumble was actually one of WWE’s finer efforts in recent years, but the match’s quality often gets lost in the muck surrounding its chief narrative. It was blatantly obvious heading into the event that Triple H would enter the match and cost Roman Reigns the WWE Championship, and so it transpired.
This was the first time the gold had been on the line in a Rumble match since 1992, and while WWE continued to push the “anything can happen” narrative, there was only going to one winner. The previous weeks had made it clear that WWE were attempting to recreate their classic Austin vs. McMahon storyline with Triple H as the evil boss and Reigns as the anti-hero, and it flopped completely.
Triple H’s win was acceptable only from an “anyone but Roman” standpoint, and as a company executive and part-time wrestler held the belt aloft, it felt very much like WWE were rubbing their fans’ faces in the dirt. The outcome doomed audiences to several months of turgid television leading up to one of the most tedious main events in WrestleMania history. Reigns vs. Triple H was a slow, plodding 30-minute match that felt at least thrice as long, and Roman’s eventual coronation closed it on the sourest of notes.